Nautica has seen a lot of firsts over the past two years, from “he’s normal now” to “he’s fancy now”. Now, we can check “he’s mom-safe now” off the list! Last week while my mom was visiting me, she asked if she could ride Nautica for a photo.
First, let me add a short background. Nautica can sometimes intimidate non-horse people. I think it has to do with the fact that he is tall, often very alert, and a bit too outgoing.
Nautica is undeniably a saddlebred and with that comes certain traits such as having more of a fixation on the world outside of the arena than most horses. This “lookyness” can intimidate riders who aren’t used to this type of horse. Even for longtime riders, this attention deficit can be an irritating quality to manage. Despite his well-intentioned but misled drama, I can say that without a doubt, Nautica is a very safe horse. His “spooks” are often well-contained and brief, being more of a flinch-in-place that ends before it ever really starts. He has never offered to bolt or leave the ground and I’ve never witnessed him have a mean-spirited thought in his head.
On the ground, Nautica easily walks on a loose lead and has a great respect for people’s space. In the past two years especially, Nautica has transformed into a horse I can trust ANYone around. Even our barn’s 9-year-old can handle him. He’s just happy to do his job and be around his people. This affable disposition, similar to the lookyness mentioned earlier, is also very characteristic of his breed.
All of this to say, my mom is a very non-horse person. In the past she has always observed and supported my horsey dreams from a safe distance. The fact that she asked to ride Nautica last week was a big surprise to me. She explained that in watching Nautica’s transformation into a dressage horse, there has been a visible relaxation to him that makes him much more approachable. He is no longer weaving in the crossties or trotting off while mounting. His whole training regimen is now based on relaxation and strength, both physically and mentally. He still retains his big, outgoing personality but he is a little less intimidating now.